Study Questions for Mid-Term Exam

  1. What is a social problem? Why is a simple definition of social problems difficult to develop?  Briefly discuss the role of values, power, and subjective perceptions in defining and determining social problems.
  2. What is sociology?  Discuss sociology as a science? What do sociologists study? How do they study it? How do sociologists approach social problems? Why is it important to study social problems sociologically?
  3. Discuss the similarities and differences between structural-functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist/social constructionist approaches to social problems. Which approach do you think is best and why?
  4. What are the major differences between quantitative and qualitative research? Briefly discuss the major quantitative and qualitative methods used by sociologists? Is research important in the study of social problems? Why or why not?
  5. What is the role of competition and conflict between groups with differing goals, values, and interest in the creation and definition of social problems?
  6. Identify and briefly discuss core American values.  Where do these values come from and how are they related?  What does it mean to say that values can be both complimentary and contradictory?
  7. Discuss liberalism and conservatism in American politics.  What values do conservatives tend to emphasize?  What values do liberals tend to emphasize?  Which party, Democrats or Republicans, tends to be more liberal and which is more conservative?  How do these differing political and value orientations relate to social problems?
  8. What is the role of social movements in defining social problems?  Be sure to discuss how social movements typically emerge and develop.  
  9. What is claims-making?  Discuss the different types of claims made by social movements.  What are counter-claims?  Why is claims-making important for social movements and the making of social problems?
  10. Discuss some of the techniques used by social movements to bring their claims to the public.  What role is played by the mass media?  How does access to wealth, power, and other resources affect a movement's efforts to have its claims heard?
  11. Discuss the possible outcomes of a social movement.  What are some of the factors that affect the success or failure of social movements?
  12. What is a family? How is family viewed in our culture? Is there such a thing as THE American family? Explain your answer.
  13. Discuss some of the diversity in family forms found historically and cross-culturally. What does this diversity say about how we should view family variation and family change?  
  14. What are some of the most significant problems related to family, sex, and gender in the U.S.? What should be done to address these issues?
  15. Discuss education as social institution. Why did education emerge as an important institution in modern industrialized democracies? How do structural-functionalists and conflict theorists view education? Which view do you believe is most accurate?
  16. What are the major characteristics and features of the American education system? What are some of the issues currently facing education in America and what should be done to address these issues?
  17. Define, relate, and distinguish between the following terms: (a) deviance, (b) crime, (c) norms, and (d) social control.
  18. Compare and relate (a) internal and external social control and (b) informal and formal sanctions.  Which of the preceding are most effective in maintaining social control?  
  19. How have structural-functionalist, conflict theorists, and interactionists/constructionist sought to explain crime and deviance?  Answer by summarizing some of theories of deviance associated with each of these approaches.
  20. What can be done to reduce or prevent crime in America? How have American politicians and policy makers traditionally dealt with crime? Are there alternatives? What do you think should be done to reduce or prevent crime?
  21. Why is drug use and abuse considered a major social problem by many Americans?  What are some of the causes of America's "drug problem?" What can or should be done to reduce drug use and the problems associated with it?